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Also Known As: Rachel Claire Ward Died:
Born: September 12, 1957 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Cornwall Manor, England, GB Profession: actor, screenwriter, director, model

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Rachel Ward is perhaps best recalled as Meggie Cleary, the strong-willed heroine who carries on a lifelong love affair with a Catholic priest, in the 1983 ABC miniseries "The Thorn Birds". But the sultry former model has also starred in more than a dozen feature films and several high profile TV projects and, in the mid-1990s, has begun a secondary career as a filmmaker.This scion of an aristocratic British family left school at 16 to pursue a career as a fashion model. With her lustrous brown hair, expressive eyes and slightly exotic features (no typical English rose she), Ward was soon in demand appearing on magazine covers and eventually moving into making appearances in TV commercials. It was perhaps inevitable that she would segue to acting, making her film debut in the forgettable thriller "Night School" (1981). Legend has it that Burt Reynolds spotted her photograph in an advertisement in Time magazine and pursued her for the role of a doomed prostitute in "Sharkey's Machine" (also 1981). That role, unfortunately, led Hollywood to typecast the beauty who essayed a series of femmes fatales in fare like "Against All Odds" (1984) and "After Dark, My Sweet" (1990).Ward became an international...

Rachel Ward is perhaps best recalled as Meggie Cleary, the strong-willed heroine who carries on a lifelong love affair with a Catholic priest, in the 1983 ABC miniseries "The Thorn Birds". But the sultry former model has also starred in more than a dozen feature films and several high profile TV projects and, in the mid-1990s, has begun a secondary career as a filmmaker.

This scion of an aristocratic British family left school at 16 to pursue a career as a fashion model. With her lustrous brown hair, expressive eyes and slightly exotic features (no typical English rose she), Ward was soon in demand appearing on magazine covers and eventually moving into making appearances in TV commercials. It was perhaps inevitable that she would segue to acting, making her film debut in the forgettable thriller "Night School" (1981). Legend has it that Burt Reynolds spotted her photograph in an advertisement in Time magazine and pursued her for the role of a doomed prostitute in "Sharkey's Machine" (also 1981). That role, unfortunately, led Hollywood to typecast the beauty who essayed a series of femmes fatales in fare like "Against All Odds" (1984) and "After Dark, My Sweet" (1990).

Ward became an international star, however, with her turn as the headstrong Meggie in "The Thorn Birds". While not a technically brilliant performer (like say Meryl Streep), she still managed to acquit herself, taking the character from young adulthood into old age, and she had a palpable chemistry with her two leading men, Richard Chamberlain (as the priest) and Bryan Brown (as her wayward spouse). Indeed, she and Brown became an off-screen couple and married in 1983.

Relocating to Australia, Ward concentrated on her marriage and raising a family, taking only the occasional acting role. She and Brown reunited on screen for the underrated Australian period drama "The Good Wife/The Umbrella Woman" (1987), in which she essayed a sexually frustrated Australian female who pursues disastrous relationships with a series of unsatisfying men. In 1991, Ward was one of a quartet caught up in murder in the based-on-fact CBS miniseries "And the Sea Will Tell". She was slightly miscast as Queen Isabella in "Christopher Columbus: The Discovery" (1992) and wasted in a cameo appearance as the heroine's unbalanced mother in "Wide Sargasso Sea" (1993). Around this time, Ward returned to college and did post-graduate studies in communications in Sydney, eventually channeling her interest in writing into making short films. Her first, "Overdose" grew out of a project for one of her children's primary school mentoring programs. The seven-minute film landed a berth at Sydney's Tropfest film festival and led to a secondary career as a filmmaker. Her second short, the love story "Blindman's Bluff" (1999), was screened at the St Kilda Film Festival and her third, "The Big House" (2000), was selected for the shorts program at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival.

Although she was enjoying success behind the camera, Ward did not abandon acting. She acted in the luridly titled (and somewhat ludicrous) TV-movie "My Stepson, My Lover" (USA Network, 1997), but was seen to better effect as a 19th-century farm wife in the heartwarming "Seasons of Love" (CBS, 1999). In 2000, she and Brown reteamed as former lovers caught up in a love triangle in a post-nuclear war world in the Showtime miniseries remake of "On the Beach".

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
2.
  Big House, The (2000) Director
3.
  Blindman's Bluff (2000) Director
4.
  Overdose (1997) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Bobbie's Girl (2002) Bobbie Langham
2.
 My Stepson, My Lover (1997) Caitlin Cory
3.
 Twisted (1996) Sara ("Third Party")
4.
 Ascent, The (1994) Patricia
5.
 Wide Sargasso Sea (1993) Annette Cosway
6.
 Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (1992) Queen Isabella
7.
 Double Jeopardy (1992) Lisa Burns
8.
 Black Magic (1992) Lillian Blatman
9.
 After Dark, My Sweet (1990) Fay
10.
 How to Get Ahead in Advertising (1989) Julia--Bagley'S Wife
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in England
:
Worked as fashion model and appeared in TV commercials before entering films
1979:
Acting debut in the NBC TV-movie "Christmas Lillies of the Field"
1981:
Feature film acting debut, "Night School"
1981:
"Discovered" by Burt Reynolds who contacted her after seeing her picture in <i>Time</i> magazine and suggested she read for the part of Dominoe in his film, "Sharky's Machine"
1982:
Starred opposite Steve Martin in the comedy "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid"
1983:
Breakthrough TV role, Meggie Cleary, the heroine of "The Thorn Birds" (ABC); met future husband Bryan Brown who co-starred as her on-screen spouse
1984:
Played the woman torn between Jeff Bridges and James Woods in "Against All Odds", a remake of the film noir "Out of the Past"
1986:
Teamed with Brown for the Ausralian film "The Good Wife/The Umbrella Woman"
1988:
Had featured role in "How to Get Ahead in Advertising"
1990:
Starred opposite Jason Patric in the noirish "After Dark, My Sweet"
1991:
Played leading role in the CBS miniseries "And the Sea Will Tell"
1992:
Cast as Queen Isabella in "Christopher Columbus: The Discovery"
1993:
Made brief appearance as the heroine's mother in "Wide Sargasso Sea", helmed by John Duigan
1996:
Appeared in the Australian anthology film "Twisted"
1997:
Played leading role of a nurse who marries a much older man and then falls for his son in the luridly titled "My Stepson, My Lover" (USA Network)
:
Helmed first short film "Overdose"; screened at Sydney's Tropfest
1999:
Portrayed a 19th-century farming wife in the CBS movie "Seasons of Love"
2000:
Made second short film "Blindman's Bluff"
2000:
Co-starred with husband in small screen remake of "On the Beach" (Showtime), directed by Russell Mulcahy
2001:
Third short, "The Big House", premiered at the Sundance Film Festival
2002:
Co-starred with Bernadette Peters in the made for-cable movie "Bobby's Girl," (Showtime) as life partners
2005:
Reunited with actor Richard Chamberlain for the Hallmark Channel miniseries, "Blackbeard"
:
Cast in the lead in the Australian miniseries, "Rain Shadow" (lensed 2007)
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Byram Art School: -
University of Technology, Sydney: - 1994

Notes

"When you live in L.A. you get submerged in all the hype. At best, you're basically assessed as a piece of ass by the people who run the movie business, and it's a very demeaning place to be. You go into meetings and you grit your teeth, and smile and laugh at their jokes, then walk out hating yourself but knowing full well it's part of the game. I felt pretty typecast in the roles I played in "Against All Odds" and "Sharkey's Machine" - I fell somewhere between the hardware and the special effects - so I made a conscious decision that I didn't want to continue to pursue roles in Hollywood because of the way it was going for me. Sometimes, in order to make people reassess you, you have to step away and come back a few years later and have another shot at it." --Rachel Ward in a 1990 interview in Movieline

"I would like to do more movies. But I don't find things very often that I want to do.

. . . And there's no question that living in Australia kills many opportunities. It is definitely a case of if you're not around to take the meetings and be visible, you're not part of the game." --Ward quoted in Biography Magazine, June 1999.

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Bryan Brown. Actor. Married in 1983; met during filming of the ABC miniseries "The Thorn Birds"; later starred together in "The Good Wife" (1986) and the 2000 Showtime miniseries "On the Beach".

Family close complete family listing

father:
Peter Alistair Ward.
mother:
Claire Leonora ward.
sister:
Tracey Louise Ward. Born on December 22, 1958; married to Henry John Fitzroy Somerset, Marquess of Worcester in 1987.
daughter:
Rosie Brown. Born in 1984.
daughter:
Matilda Brown. Born in 1987.
son:
Joe Brown. Born in 1992.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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